Two-time defending state champion Lewis Palmer has played just one match to date but the schedule picks up intensity this week with the Rangers playing as many as six matches before week’s end.  Up first are matches against 5A rivals Grandview and Chaparral and then the Rangers host their annual tournament on Saturday.
The one match the Rangers have played, they rolled past Coronado 3-0 and dominated in almost every category.  Lewis Palmer registered 33 kills and 17 aces compared to just 16 and three for the Cougars.  The Rangers also ended the match with 50 diggs; Coronado had 30.  Lewis Palmer also dished out 32 assists to just eight for the Cougars.
Individually, Trinity Jackson had 11 kills and Taylor Buckley 10.  McKenna Sciacca (6) and Gianna Bartalo (4) combined for ten aces.  Bartalo led the defensive charge with 19 diggs and Sciacca added a dozen.  Sciacca also topped the Rangers with 27 assists.
First up this week is a date with Chaparral on Tuesday.  And it’s a highly anticipated match since both teams check in at number one in their class this week.  Chaparral moved up to the top spot despite a loss to Fort Collins because they also topped former #1 Fossil Ridge on the road last Tuesday.  Their loss to Fort Collins came on a neutral floor at the Regis Volleyball Jam.
In the win over Fossil Ridge. Kira Thomsen had a big effort with a team best 19 kills and five aces.  Juliana Dalton and Abby Heimlicher also added nine kills apiece and Morgan Riddle seven.  Katie Dalton also had a nice match as the freshman tallied four aces and a team high 19 assists.
Grandview’s winless record is very misleading as the Wolves have dropped four five-set contests.  A point either way in those matches could have the Wolves at least above five hundred.  They’ve been swept just once (Ponderosa) and feature the hitting trio of Gabby Beckman (58 kills), Emily Lamphere (51) and Hannah Skurcenski (51).
Ponderosa opened the season outside the top 10 but a strong start has pushed them all the way to third this week.  Their only blemish to date is a loss to #2 Cherokee Trail (5A) in the opening match of the Regis Tournament last Friday.  The Mustangs then swept Columbine, Pine Creek and Air Academy to finish out.
Five of the Mustangs six wins are against 5A opponents and they get a chance at another victory in that column when they host Doherty on Tuesday.  The Spartans have played just two matches; splitting with Cheyenne Mountain (lost) and Pueblo County (won).
The match is the only action of the week for Ponderosa but they will use it to prep for the rugged Continental conference as play opens next week.  The Mustangs get started against Chaparral and Rock Canyon.
Valor Christian is no longer a 4A school but the Eagles drop back into the division for nice matches against Holy Family (Tuesday) and D’Evelyn (Thursday) this week.  The date with Holy Family continues what’s been a strong stretch for the Tigers.  They’re coming off a 2-2 finish at the Regis Tournament fell short to Cherokee Trail and Legend.
Ali Travis ended her junior season with 384 kills but is already well past that pace in the early going this season.  Through six matches a year ago, she had just 76 kills but has already totaled 98 over the same span this year.  Support has come from Rileigh Lynch (55 kills) and Bianca Eldridge (51).
Carly Trostel, with 256 assists, is also off to a fast start for Holy Family.  She opened the season with 54 against D’Evelyn and has totaled at least 40 in three of the next five matches.
D’Evelyn (0-3) is much like Grandview in that the Jaguars have not yet figured out how to win tight matches.  All three of their losses are in five sets as they’ve fallen to Chatfield, Thomas Jefferson and Holy Family.  Win number one could come against Elizabeth on Tuesday night and if that happens, the Jags will have some momentum building when they meet Valor Christian two nights later.
Sophia Hoffman has 72 kills for the Jags but no other player has more than 21.  Lorena Payne has 81 diggs including 31 in the loss to Thomas Jefferson.  Leah Sommer finished with 42 assists against Holy Family and sits at 105 through three contests.
Palmer Ridge and Pueblo West clash on Tuesday and it’s a match of two new rosters trying to determine roles.  The Bears beat Classical Academy (3-0) in their opener but fell to defending 5A champion Castle View 3-1 last week.  Pueblo West has played just one match and fell short to Discovery Canyon in three sets.  The match was tight as Discovery Canyon outscored the Cyclones by 10 points overall.
Reagan Emery nailed 15 kills in 27 chances in her 2018 debut.  Paige Boitz added eight in 15 tries.  Teyah Duran paced the team with 16 assists and Maya Webb added 10.
Tuesday’s match the start of a busy stretch for Coach Casey King’s club.  They also battle Canon City on Thursday and then face off against a good slate of teams at the Lewis Palmer Invitational.
Out west, we have an important early league meeting between Glenwood Springs and Battle Mountain.  The two clubs routinely battle with Steamboat Springs for the conference championship.  It’s the first of two meetings between the longtime rivals.
Battle Mountain (3-0) has the better record but Glenwood Springs (2-2) has played the more difficult schedule.  The Demons have lost to 5A Fruita Monument and Mead while the Huskies have moved past Elizabeth and local rivals Vail Mountain and Vail Christian; both 2A programs.
The Huskies are led up front by Lillian Benway (32 kills), Eleanor Sheahan (18) and Tatum Huffman (12).  They’ve also reeled off 41 aces in just three matches including 10 apiece from Ava Spangler and Mason Lyon.  Spangler (65) is also averaging 22 assists per match.
Two other matches of note this week include #9 Cheyenne Mountain on the road to Chaparral on Tuesday and #10 Discovery Canyon visiting Thomas Jefferson on Wednesday.
The Indians are 1-1 on the season.  They topped Doherty 3-1 to win the coaching debut of Gail Sanchez but then fell to Liberty by the same four-set result two nights later.
Up front, the Indians have been balanced so far with five players already in double figures with kills.  Jackie Martensen leads the list with 17 and Ella Eddy has 14.  Sydney Wagner leads the Indians with 40 diggs and Kaelin Coe has 37 assists.
Discovery Canyon and Thomas Jefferson are two clubs that have been in and out of the rankings through the first three polls of the season.  The Thunder opened the season with a 3-0 loss to Erie but replaced Pueblo West this week after beating the Cyclones in three hard-fought sets.
The Spartans are 3-4 overall but have won their last two over Grandview (3-1) and Columbine (3-1).  They also opened the season by outlasting D’Evelyn in five.
Air Academy is a fourth Pikes Peak league team in the rankings as the Kadets are 8th this week.  They’re off until next week after finishing 2-2 at the Regis Volleyball Jam.  Included in the stretch was a nice win over Thomas Jefferson.
#4 Niwot finally gets on the court for the first time this week as the Cougars tangle with Centaurus and Northridge Tuesday and Thursday.  Both are league matches.  Then the Cougars could meet Lewis Palmer at the Rangers Invite on Saturday.
Erie has climbed all the way to fifth in the rankings this week.  The Tigers are 2-1 with a lone loss to then 5A #1 Fossil Ridge.  They’ve also beaten Discovery Canyon and Evergreen.  The Tigers are next on the court Wednesday against Golden
Evergreen has dropped to 8th in the rankings following the loss to Erie.  The Cougars also came up short to Chatfield last week and sit at 1-2 on the young season.  They should climb back to five hundred against Conifer on Tuesday and will also be favored at Ralston Valley on Thursday.  And Saturday marks a trip to the Thomas Jefferson Tournament.